THE 'I-DEAL' LIFE
By: Dave Gordon
It might sound like a sci-fi story, but the idea of a “robot maid” isn’t so far off in the future.
Believe it or not, the more artificial intelligence advances, and the more reliant we’ve become on computerized machinery, it’s only a natural step that a robot maid takes control of household chores.
There are already robotic vacuum cleaners, like Roomba – a roaming circular device that uses sophisticated algorithms to determine what needs to be vacuumed. But in recent months and years, a variety of reports have come out touting progress in the realm of machines and devices that are specifically designed to assist in more elaborate home-based tasks.
Last year, Tech Times reported that scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are “one step closer to robot maids.” The breakthrough came when the scientists developed an algorithm for household robots that enabled them to more easily recognize and discern trash from non-trash. That equation was a step up from previous calculations, more accurately determining garbage by a factor of four times as many, and 10 times faster.
In another report, from Zdnet, Korean scientists have managed to create a robot maid that can do laundry and use a microwave oven. The four-foot tall, 122-pound robot, dubbed Mahru-Z, has human recognition ability and can sense when a job needs doing. Witha human-esque body – including a rotating head, arms, legs and fingers – it’s been given the motor skills to pick up dirty laundry, place it into a washing machine and program the machine. The scientists at the Korean Institute of Technology have also programmed the robot to inspect different rooms, looking for items to pick up.
Owners of the Mahru-Z can control the robot, if they wished, via computer or remote control. Naturally, the idea is for the owner to go outside and sip piña coladas while the “help” does all the heavy lifting.
There’s no commercial selling date for the robot just yet, but the creators hope it will happen in the foreseeable future.
On the same side of the globe, Japan – a gizmo and electronic hub for decades – has invented what itcalls the “Twendy-One Robot.” Dubbed the “bedside nurse-bot,” its prime use is said to be looking after the needs of the ill and elderly. Capable of understanding voice commands, the robot can not only cook, clean floors, and bring breakfast in bed, but also carry a patient out of bed if necessary. Researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo hope to make mechanical and software improvements in the very near future that will enable the robot to fetch and carry medication, and administer it to the patient, using its soft-grip fingers. Look for this robot within 10 years – at the bargain price of $200,000.
Also in Japan, a new hotel opened last summer, completely run by robots. Called Henn-na – or “strange hotel” – the mechanized personnel manage the front desk, provide luggage carrying services, and even clean the rooms. And rather than the old-fashioned key to get in your room, doors open using facial recognition.
There’s big investment in this technology coming from one of the world’s largest companies. Few are aware that Google has acquired eight robotics companies in the past year, and in the interim, NASA has been developing new robot prototypes, that, while may initially be intended for space exploration, could one day be utilized on planet Earth.
Meanwhile, technicians in Great Britain are seeking an unusual combination: guard dog and domestic robot maid. According to a story in The Washington Postfrom 2014, the “maid” will vacuum and clean windows – but also serve as a security apparatus at your doorway, to keep intruders away. One inventor, James Dyson, has invested more than $10 million at Imperial College, London, to advance this idea of a commercialized robot maid.
The robot craze has begun, it appears – and it may be a race for who’s going to create the best and brightest computerized housekeeper.
The Mahru-Z robot is the most advanced maid robot in terms of autonomy and mimicking human movement. The robot, using its moving hands, elbows and six fingers, can pick up a dirty shirt, throw it into a washing machine and push the buttons to get the laundry done.
The Twendy-One robot is designed to help out with nursing care
and housekeeping for the eldery in Japan.
The Henn-na Hotel
The Henn-na is a hotel with robot staff. Robots provide a wide range of services, including room cleaning, front desk services and porter services.
One of the robots that guests will encounter when arriving at the Henn-na hotel.